Initiative to develop “Direct Vision” ratings for blind spots on large vehicles – safety and compliance

A 2018 demonstration of how the Volpe Center’s “View” app (visibility in vehicles with increased width) can measure blind zones on large vehicles.

Photo: Screen capture from the Volpe video

Drivers of trucks, buses and other large vehicles need to be able to see “vulnerable road users” like pedestrians, according to proponents of a new standard for direct view cabin design that is in the works.

Together for Safer Roads, through its Global Leadership Council for Fleet Safety, is working with the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center and TSR members such as Republic Services to make direct view cab design an industry standard for US fleets

The initiative will provide fleet managers and operators with data and analysis on how safe – or dangerous – vehicles are in relation to driver blind zones, including the development of a standard for rating vehicles and a database of those ratings.

Driver cabs with direct vision reduce or completely eliminate the driver’s blind zones, according to the announcement. Currently, the vast majority of commercial vehicles available in the U.S. do not offer a direct view, the organization said, “despite estimates that a quarter of the more than 500 pedestrian and bicyclist deaths each year could be attributed to large trucks traveling at low speeds through view canopies.” prevented.”

A grant was awarded by the Santos Family Foundation to support TSR’s work to make direct view cabs the industry standard for commercial vehicles.

Development of direct vision ratings

TSR aims to standardize the direct view cabin design by demonstrating the benefits of a direct view standard and self-certification process.

TSR plans to work with fleet operators to test the direct view rating standards and initiate the self-certification process to demonstrate truck safety. His goal is for fleets to make the standards and certification an industry best practice, backed by research shared between public and private sector fleets to prove the benefits of direct vision.

The standard and certification are based on research from the Volpe Center, whose mission is to address the country’s most pressing and complex transportation challenges. It will showcase new tools such as the Volpe Center’s “View” app (Visibility in Elevated Wide Vehicles), a smartphone app that allows fleets to measure blind zones on their vehicles.

Together for Safer Roads and the Volpe Center are collaborating to use the View commercial vehicle rating app and create a database of view ratings for dozens, if not hundreds, of models.

View is a low-cost web application developed by Olin College of Engineering students sponsored by the Santos Family Foundation, working under the guidance of Volpe Center experts. Data for View is collected using a standard smartphone, measuring stick, and camera tripod. The web application calculates a direct view rating based on the viewable area near the cab.

In 2018, the Volpe Center, Together for Safer Roads and waste management company Republic Services organized a demonstration of the View system.

The Santos Family Foundation has also provided grants to the Volpe Center to develop and refine applications that facilitate direct vision assessment for truck and large passenger vehicle cabs.

As part of the standards and certification development process, TSR and the Volpe Center will distribute data and analysis to government regulators, car and truck manufacturers, fleet managers and drivers to drive the need for direct view cabs.

Although several vehicle manufacturers are already selling direct view cab designs in Europe, few are available for fleets in the US or other parts of the world. TSR intends to show manufacturers the untapped potential for direct view trucks in the US market and beyond, with work already underway through a public-private partnership that includes organizations such as:

  • The City of New York, which manages the largest sanitation department in the world and is committed to making direct view trucks the standard.
  • TSR member Republic Services, one of the largest waste disposal companies in the United States, is researching changing its procurement specifications to require direct view cabs.
  • The National Waste and Recycling Association, participating in TSR-led direct vision discussions.

The New York City plan states that “large trucks can be configured with cabs that allow the driver the greatest possible degree of direct vision and minimize the need to rely on indirect vision through mirrors, cameras and other devices.” Truck cabs should be positioned as low to the ground as possible, with glazing extending as far as possible at the front and sides – e.g. B. Full-height, fully glazed entrance doors similar to those found on DSNY collectors. Trucks should have either a cabover design whenever possible, or else a sloping conventional hood to minimize front blind spots.

Protection of “vulnerable road users”

TSR isn’t the only organization concerned about large vehicle blind spots that can obscure pedestrians, cyclists and other “vulnerable road users”.

The National Transportation Safety Board has for years recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that both medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks “must be equipped with vision-enhancing systems to improve the ability of tractor-trailer drivers to recognize passenger vehicles and vulnerable road users.” , including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.”

In 2019, the NTSB reported that data showed that large vehicles pose a particular problem for bike safety, particularly in urban areas where large vehicles travel near cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The NTSB examined data from 2014 to 2017 and found that 511 cyclists were involved in accidents involving transit operations. Among them, 374 cyclists or 73% collided with transit buses. 23 cyclists or 6% died in these accidents.

In 2013, the NTSB report “Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulting in Injuries and Deaths” concluded that onboard systems and equipment that compensate for blind spots and allow single-unit truck drivers to protect vulnerable road users detect, prevent fatalities and could prevent injuries that occur in accidents involving one-piece trucks. Such systems and equipment could include enhanced mirror systems or sensors that can alert drivers when another vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian is in their blind spot after the driver activates the turn signal.

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